Left untreated, a kitchen fire can spread through your entire home in just 5 minutes. Fortunately, it's easy to prevent fires from happening in the kitchen if you practice a few simple safety tips. Protect your family and home by learning the basics of kitchen fire safety below.
Electric ranges are a bigger fire hazard than gas ranges, but you should still stay close by when you use either one. Keep an eye on whatever you're cooking in a pot or skillet, and don't take a nap while the oven is running. You should also stay in the room when you use a deep fryer, air fryer or microwave.
Before using your stove or other appliances, make sure the area is clean. There should be no wrappers, paper towels or other items near your equipment. You should also keep potholders, clothing and cups away from your equipment while it's in use.
Oil and grease can also lead to a kitchen fire. You may think it's safe to walk away from an oil-filled skillet or deep fryer after you finish cooking, but the hot grease can go up in flames. This is true even if you have already turned off your range or unplugged your deep fryer.
Grease from a deep fryer or skillet should be emptied into a lidded container once it cools down a bit. Never dump it down your drain, and hold off on emptying grease in the trash if it's still hot. Hot grease can burn through plastic garbage bags and even destroy the can itself.
Watch out for home decor that's wrapped in fabric or covered with bows, such as a linen-wrapped mason jar. These items can easily catch on fire if you have them near kitchen equipment. Wooden spoons, curtains, and stacks of mail are other common fire hazards found in kitchens.
Let's run through some common scenarios where this may happen. While cooking, a family member may notice that the oil in a skillet bubbles if you accidentally drip water in the grease. This same family member may flick water into the skillet until it bubbles and steams, causing a kitchen emergency.
Another example of material misuse occurs when you place something that isn't heat-safe in your oven. This may be a decorative platter or an appliance with electrical components, such as an unplugged crockpot. A fire can also occur if you accidentally leave flammable items in your oven, such as plastic cups or a mixing bowl. If you forget the items are inside and turn on your oven, you may experience a kitchen fire.
Also, be mindful of what you place in your microwave. Make sure your food is in a heat-safe container, and avoid microwaving large pieces of aluminum foil. If you're unsure whether an item is microwave safe, check the bottom to see if it has instructions or guidelines. Cookware and glasses are often labeled as microwave safe when they can withstand high heat.
Clean your appliances regularly, and make sure you use cleaning supplies that are safe for kitchen use. Many cleaning supplies are flammable, so choosing the wrong one for your skillet or range can result in an unpleasant surprise. It's also important to keep the area around your kitchen equipment clean. Avoid placing stacks of paperwork near your range or crockpot, and don’t hang long curtains near your stove. You should also be careful not to block electrical outlets.
It's okay to leave some appliances plugged into an outlet, such as ovens or microwaves. However, keep an eye on your outlets. Make sure they are free from grease or other debris, and don't block them with decor or bakeware.
Also, make sure important kitchen equipment like your smoke detector never gets unplugged. A working smoke detector often provides the first indicator that something is amiss in the kitchen.
Check your batteries at least once a month, and swap them out on an annual basis. Experts recommend replacing your entire smoke detector unit every 10 years, sooner if needed.Fire extinguishers also play an essential role in kitchen safety. Keep your fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach spot, such as hanging on your wall or a cabinet door. Don't limit your extinguisher to the kitchen; make sure you place at least one on every level of your home.
Fire extinguishers have a long life, so you can typically get by with keeping the same ones for 10 to 12 years. However, it's good to recharge your extinguisher every 5 or 6 years just to make sure it still works properly during an emergency.
After you place a lid on your skillet or vat, it's time to turn off the power. Turn the dial to the off setting if the fire is on your range, or unplug the deep fryer or other appliance if it was on fire. You may also need to use your fire extinguisher to put out the flames, but call 911 and leave the home if they are quickly spreading and growing bigger.
Arrange a meeting spot, such as a neighbor's home or the stop sign, and decide who will be responsible for getting family members and pets out of the home. For example, you may agree you'll grab the baby, while your husband will work on getting the cat and dog out of your home.
During a fire, family members may panic. Make sure you review multiple exit options, including doors and windows, in advance. You may even want to schedule a practice evacuation with kids and pets.